Independent Spirit

I have my share of political opinion, although I seldom make them due to not being interested enough in these things. I did upload some stuff like this badly-made typography and a hipster-style blog post about this holiday that I had since deleted, which were made during my younger and more pretentious days. To commemorate the occasion, please let me indulge in some nostalgia with this pretentious new-age banter just so that I can post something in this blog after such a long time.

Bear with me as I try to make a case for questioning how independent we really are.

How Free?

Setting aside the different opinions about this national holiday called “Independence Day”, whether you believe that it truly represents this nation’s freedom or merely propaganda as conspiracy theories would have it, there are things we must think about while we take this short respite. What is Independence?

History classes teach us that it’s about being free from occupation by other nations. The Philippines had been passed along, first by the Spaniards for over 300 years, then to the Americans for about 50 years, and the Japanese for 4 brutal years. Those colonial times are long past and most of us who are alive right now don’t realistically know how it is to be a conquered nation. Because of that, this independence is normality, and that feeling of liberation like what those people felt when their foreign masters leave or were driven out is pretty much absent in this generation.

Filipinos take national pride in various things, like with immigrants and OFWs, foreigners’ fascination in our culture, sports heroes, and so on. Some take it so personally that if someone makes a joke about our culture, they get up in arms about being offended. Meanwhile, others have become either ashamed or cynical as to make a considerable effort in eliminating feelings of patriotism and indications of being Filipino. This vicious cycle of going back and forth between pride and shame doesn’t seem like freedom, but dependence of spirit.

The disgruntled have then made lots of noise about corruption and how the plight of the common man is overridden by greed and lack of empathy. Some also made remarks that the country is not ruled by the people, but by big corporations that control every aspect of our lives. It’s postmodern indignation that has resonated since the late 80’s when Marcos was forced to step down. Comparisons between him and his successors are made to show how far we’ve fallen, and then arguments are made against those observations. History may have a lot to teach us, but most don’t get even a glimpse of the bigger picture. From how I see it, these corrupt entities started out as common folk like us.

As passage of time is relative to the individual, it may be true for independence as well. What we mostly contend with isn’t the threat of being conquered by foreign powers, but being beaten down by modern society. Living and being happy as a human being seems to be antagonized by responsibilities and pressures from various aspects of our daily lives, whether it’s family, school, work, and so on. Self-esteem keeps being battered down by peers and superiors, as well as the general culture and politics of whatever establishment you reside in.

Most of us find our own ways to circumvent such inconveniences and learn to live with them. Some find the heart to quit being repressed, while others realize a state of Zen amidst the chaos. The spirit of independence starts within self, whether we are happy with our lives or slowly destroying it with either excesses or nothingness. However difficult our situations may be, finding that place where we could be at peace for even a little while could be independence enough.

How can there be no room for introspection? After all, culture is formed by the conventions and customs of the people. If we now have a culture of apathy towards our own country, as a Korean had stated in his now-famous written piece, My Short Essay About the Philippines, then it does seem that we have to start asking questions, not at the government or any other establishment, but at ourselves.

Are you at war or at peace with yourself?

Why I Wrote This?

This is my attempt at some sober commentary on Filipino society. I’m not very good at this since I don’t hold hardline views about how this country should or should not be. I’m not even that angry with the government, the Catholic Church, and homophobes. I disapprove of them, but I don’t have enough of the rage that would drive me to write scathing things about them.

I’m not that angry, and it makes me doubtful about myself. Am I apathetic?

How Angry are You?

Do you think that I’m too pretentious for my own good? Is this post just utter garbage? Don’t see whatever the hell my point is? Tell me about it in the comments section below.